The MCC is a 16th Century building and is recognised as one of Valletta’s most notable landmarks. With breath-taking views of the Grand Harbour, the MCC is located at the tip of the capital city’s peninsula and is firmly established as one of Europe’s largest conference centres in an historical setting.
Formerly a hospital, the MCC was known as the Sacra Infermeria. When the French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, occupied Malta in 1798, they made alterations to the hospital by improving its ventilation, sanitation and lighting. They changed it to a military hospital to accommodate sick French sailors and soldiers, which resulted in a name change from Sacra Infermeria to Hopital Militaire. It continued to serve as a military hospital after the French surrendered in September 1800; it was immediately occupied by 350 British troops. The wounded British soldiers arrived in hospital ships that sailed into the harbour.
Malta’s strategic location was proved during the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First World War, with the island garnering a reputation as the 'Nurse of the Mediterranean'.
Its reputation and experience has also granted the MCC membership of the Historic Conference Centres of Europe (HCCE). Furthermore, once the building had been fully restored in 1979 and converted into the modern conference centre that we know today, it won the Europa Nostra Award. Its ‘superb restoration’ was recognised, including the tasteful blending of ancient architecture with the modern technology needed to deal with the demands of 21st Century conferences and functions.
The MCC has hosted prestigious international events. Some of the world’s best dancers from Russia’s leading theatres, such as the Bolshoi, performed at this venue last March. The MCC also hosted performances by the Guangxi Troupe from China – an acrobatic team that is often compared to Cirque du Soleil, with a whopping fifty-seven years of experience of performing in more than forty countries.
This will be the perfect location for the CHOGM 2015 Opening Ceremony, which promises to be as impressive as the venue itself.
Fort Saint Angelo, located in the centre of Malta’s Grand Harbour in the city of Birgu, is the chosen venue for the CHOGM retreat.
This city itself has significant historical roots dating back to the medieval times. It was considered the capital city of Malta, prior to the establishment of Valletta. With a vital role in the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, this city is a great encapsulate for Fort Saint Angelo.
A former castle, it was developed into a large bastioned fort in the 16th and 17th centuries. The fort was also used by the British as a stone frigate – a naval establishment on land, and was referred to as HMS Egmont and HMS St Angelo.
In more recent times Fort St Angelo was used to film part of the first season of the Game of Thrones series, where the Fort’s underground tunnels were used as the Red Keep Dungeon.
As part of the Knights' Fortifications around the Harbours of Malta, the Fort has been on Malta's tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1998. As the jewel in the crown of the Maltese islands’ military heritage, the Fort has just been restored with a €15 million investment by Heritage Malta, its biggest project so far.
While the restored Fort St Angelo will open its doors to the general public in December 2015, with only a few high profile events taking place during October, we look forward to hosting the official CHOGM 2015 retreat at this prestigious venue.
The purpose of the visit was to discuss the request made by the Commonwealth Foundation to hold the first ever “Commonwealth Secretary General All Candidates Debate” with the participation of civil society representatives. This debate is expected to take place on Wednesday 25th November 2015 at the House of Representatives and will be chaired by Mr Speaker.
Also present for the meeting were Mr Ray Scicluna, Clerk of the House; Ms Jacqueline Micallef Grimaud, Chair of the Commonwealth People’s Forum sub-committee; Dr Claire Baluci, Member of the Commonwealth People’s Forum; Ms Rita Vella, CHOGM Taskforce and Secretary to CPF; Ms Joany Grima, CF, and Mr Ronnie Vella, CHOGM Taskforce.
The main events during the visit shall include an official welcome at St George Square, Valletta; a reception hosted by the Queen for the People of Malta; a spectacular CHOGM opening ceremony and a dinner held in honour of the Heads of Government.
The fondness the Royal Family harbours towards the Maltese, and the country’s history shall be highlighted through this state visit by the Queen, as well as through the engagements being taken separately by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
CHOGM related engagements shall, simultaneously, recognise the potential of a modern Commonwealth and its citizens. Earlier this year, during her message to the Commonwealth, the Queen had stated that “We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead.”
This is the fourth time the Prince of Wales shall be attending CHOGM and his presence reflects his work on global sustainability and youth opportunities over the past forty years. Among other events, he shall attend a special session on climate change and address the Commonwealth Business Forum.
Thursday 26th November
The Prime Minister of Malta, the Honourable Dr. Joseph Muscat, shall officially greet Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh upon arrival at Malta International Airport.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will have arrived shortly before and will depart to follow their own programme.
The Queen and the Duke shall be given a ceremonial welcome on St George's Square by the President of Malta, Her Excellency Mrs Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, before proceeding to San Anton Palace.
During the afternoon the Prince of Wales will attend the CHOGM Business Forum and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit Mdina Glass in Ta' Qali.
On Thursday evening the Queen, accompanied by the Duke, the Prince and the Duchess, will host a reception for the people of Malta in the gardens of San Anton Palace.
The Prince of Wales, President of The Prince's Trust, will later join guests at a reception to mark the launch of Prince's Trust International.
Friday 27th November
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, will attend the opening ceremony of the 24th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.
Following that, the Queen and the Prince of Wales will return to San Anton Palace to meet the new Commonwealth Heads of Government, including Malcolm Turnbull of Australia and Justin Trudeau of Canada.
The Duke of Edinburgh will visit St Paul’s Cathedral for a short thanksgiving service and tour, including meeting former members of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) and Friends of the Cathedral, of which he is Patron. The Duke will then travel to the Casino Maltese for the Duke of Edinburgh International Awards lunch.
The Duchess of Cornwall, Patron of Book Trust, will visit the "Read With Me" literacy programme at St Thomas More College Primary School, Zejtun, followed by a remembrance ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Capuccini Naval Cemetery, Kalkara.
Following the New Heads lunch, the Prince of Wales will visit the Maritime Museum, Vittoriosa, to view an exhibition of the finalists of "Out of the Blue: The Prince of Wales's Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards" and attend a discussion with youth delegates.
On Friday evening the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, will attend the traditional CHOGM dinner at the Corinthia Palace Hotel, Attard.
Saturday 28 November
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will have a short engagement in Mdina before departing on Saturday morning.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Heritage Malta, Kalkara, where they will observe restoration work of historically significant paintings, books and textiles and watch a display of Maltese culture, both traditional and contemporary.
From here The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart by boat across Valletta Harbour for the final engagement of the State visit, at Marsa Racecourse, home to Malta Racing Club and Malta Polo Club.
The Queen and The Duke will then depart.
Photo Courtesy of Press Association.
This announcement was made during TVM’s popular morning show TVAM where Ms Kemi Ogunsanya, Adviser - Gender and Political Development at the Commonwealth Secretariat, was present with Ms Nikita Zammit Alamango, a member of the organising committee, to promote the Forum.
Ms Puri has long been involved in women’s and gender issues. Following a 28 year career within the Indian Foreign Service, she joined the United Nations in 2002 as Director of the largest division at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In March 2011, she joined UN Women where as a member of the senior leadership team, she actively contributed to the institutional development and consolidation of the entity, shaping its first Strategic Plan and positioning it as the leading organisation for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment globally. Ms Puri will be delivering the main speech on the first day of the Commonwealth Women’s Forum, being held in Malta between the 22nd and 24th of November 2015.
Another speaker announced during yesterday’s intervention on TVAM is the Hon Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of the Bangladeshi Parliament. Besides boasting an extensive legal career in a number of fields, including human rights and gender issues, Dr Chaudhury was awarded Asia Society’s Humanitarian Service Award in 2010 in recognition of her role as a leader in advocating the elimination of violence against women and mainstreaming women’s empowerment and employment in Bangladesh. She will address the Commonwealth Women’s Forum during a panel session on Women in Leadership.
The Commonwealth Women’s Forum, the first ever, will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel, St Julians. Through the theme of “Women Ahead: Be All That You Can Be” this Forum is set to raise awareness of women’s issues in Commonwealth countries and show how women’s contributions can have a positive impact politically, economically and socially. The need to introduce a platform for discussion of women’s issues across the Commonwealth is a clear message supporting the empowerment of women.
We are proud to have just launched the official CHOGM 2015 video, ‘The People We Are.’ Rich in diversity, it truly encapsulates the theme of ‘The Commonwealth – Adding Global Value’. We encourage you to have a look at it here.
This month, we also had the honour of interviewing the British High Commissioner to Malta, Rob Luke, who spoke of his expectations for CHOGM 2015 as well as the value that Malta can bring as host. HE Rob Luke highlighted the important role that the Commonwealth at large has for its 2.3 billion citizens, granting them a global identity, held together by common values and history.
We also had a chat with one of Malta’s 600 local volunteers, Clifford Galea, who spoke of his patriotism and excitement showcasing Malta to the many foreign delegations set to visit the island.
With CHOGM getting ever nearer it is now all the more crucial to ensure your accreditation is secured, as this is needed to access the forums. Accreditation is also a step to applying for a Visa if needed.
We cannot wait to welcome you all to CHOGM 2015.
The brief was for the video to highlight Malta’s strength, diversity and cultural background, as well as the unwavering determination of the Maltese people. The CHOGM Malta 2015 theme, ‘The Commonwealth – Adding Global Value’ also had to be reflected. This required reference to Malta being in the Mediterranean Sea, forming part of Europe as well as having worldwide connections. Its history, geographical location and investment potential were to be highlighted too.
On 2nd October, the CHOGM Malta 2015 Taskforce was thrilled to present the official video ‘The People We Are’. It was launched at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The video encapsulates the main theme of ‘The Commonwealth – Adding Global Value ’
True to the island’s roots, the song’s compilation is rich in diversity as depicted by various local artists. Ivan Grech composed the music and wrote the lyrics while the orchestrations were arranged by Karl Fiorini.
Leading and upcoming artists Amber Bondin, Errol Sammut, Matthew Borg and Jasmine Abela bring to life the central theme of unity in diversity. The video for ‘The People We Are’ also includes the participation of the Animate Gospel Choir, the National Youth Orchestra, Peter Borg on guitar, Robert Spiteri on drums and Chris Curmi on bass as well as children from the La Voix Academy.
The CHOGM Malta 2015 song was recorded at Temple Studios and produced by David Vella.
The official video was produced by the Public Broadcasting Services Limited (PBS) and co-funded by the Malta Film Commission. We invite you all to watch it here - http://bit.ly/1OfjolX
The same vehicles will be utilised during the Valletta Summit on Migration, set to be held between 11 and 12 November.
The fleet of 78 brand-new Volvos includes 58 Volvo XC60 and 20 Volvo S60. These cars will be provided to all visiting heads of government and foreign ministers during CHOGM as well as the EU and African heads of state attending the Valletta Summit on Migration.
Phyllis Muscat, head of the CHOGM Malta 2015 Taskforce stated: “I am delighted that we have been able to sign-up Volvo as a partner in the Commonwealth Summit. We are determined to give a warm welcome and look after every visiting head of government, and with Volvo on board, we will ensure high quality transportation”.
Official representatives for Volvo, GasanZammit Motors Ltd, said: “Volvo is honoured to have been chosen as the exclusive official transport partner for the Valletta Summit on Migration and CHOGM. Volvo has always invested in the world of innovation and is synonymous in providing its clients with outstanding quality and durability. It is this strong commitment that drives Volvo forward in delivering high standards of safety, comfort and excellence throughout.”
CHOGM will be held between the 27th and the 29th of November. For more information please visit chogm2015.mt.
The vehicles will be on display, for the public to view, at the Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina event being held on the 4th October 2015.
‘The People We Are’, the official song for CHOGM Malta 2015, and accompanying music video was launched this afternoon during an event organized by the CHOGM Malta 2015 Taskforce. Both the song and the music video embody the concept of unity in diversity, reminiscent of CHOGM Malta 2015’s theme, ‘The Commonwealth - Adding Global Value’.
The music of the official song is composed by Ivan Grech. The song has been recorded at Temple Studios, produced by David Vella and is performed by leading singers from the local scene; Amber, Errol Sammut, Matthew Borg and Jasmine Abela with participation of the Animae Gospel Choir, the Malta Youth Orchestra as well Peter Borg, Robert Spiteri and Chris Curmi on guitar, drums and bass respectively.
The official video, produced by Public Broadcasting Services Limited and co-funded by the Malta Film Commission also involves the participation of children from La Voix Academy.
PBS Ltd said that in producing the music video ‘The People We Are’, it has drawn upon the common wealth of talent which abounds in Malta and knitted it into the fabric of our increasingly multi-cultural society.
PBS producer and concept creator Rodney Gauci added that “working with children and people from different cultures is always a pleasure but also requires a sensitivity from a production point of view as well as from the crew – this sensitivity we found in spades”.
Film Commissioner Engelbert Grech said: “The Malta Film Commission is pleased to have collaborated with CHOGM Taskforce on this high level initiative. The MFC is proud to have been part of this process to ensure the best possible product which ultimately is a proof of Malta’s commitment towards the important international role of the Commonwealth”.
Ivan Grech, who composed the song described ‘The People We Are’ as “an anthem hailing those who work effortlessly for a better world led by empathy, peace and understanding, a tribute to all those whose sacrifices left a positive impact on our lives and a plea from our generation to those in power to follow in their footsteps”.
Grech described creating the song as a challenge: “I had to create a song with other fellow artists and performers in mind; it had to be something grand, involving a choir and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. I also had to tackle a specific subject bearing in mind that it is actually just one part of a much bigger puzzle”. He expressed his gratitude and pleasure at being given this opportunity to contribute and work with both established and upcoming artists to create a song with “a strong positive vibe”.
Artistic director, Raymond Calleja, described the creative process leading up to the final product as a “truly humbling experience with people coming together and sharing their ethnic, cultural and religious diversities”. He added: “The main objective behind the project ‘The People We Are’, both the song and the video, is to emphasise that we are united as global and Commonwealth citizens, albeit our different countries, cultures and values”
Whilst thanking all contributors, Calleja stated that he hopes the song will touch everyone emotionally in one way or another. He concluded that “life was, is and will continue to be about the people we are.”